Jointing without a jointer

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Blog entry by Brokewood posted 08-13-2010 04:53 PM 19416 reads 3 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi everyone,
I seem to have bitten off more than I can chew. I’ve decided to build a coffee table for my living room,
I’ve made plans and all – I went and bought the lumber, even had it planed and ready to go.
Thing is, I forgot to ask them to run it through a jointer… Now, I can always swallow my pride, go back and ask them to use their jointer but I kind of don’t want to.
I’ve decided to make this into a learning experience and try jointing without a jointer.
Now the only thing missing is… how the heck do I do this?
I’ve got a long straight ruler, handplane, belt sander, orbital sander and two peices of lumber I want to join.
Any advice would be great!

15 comments so far

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3365 days

#1 posted 08-13-2010 05:01 PM

take a straight board ,
and clamp it to your work .
run a flush trim bit (with a bearing) ,
and a router .
should do the job .

we did this all the time in boat work ,
as only some parts needed to be straight ,
(cabinet fronts and tables) .
mark where you want the straight to be ,
and align the straight edge to it .
make multi-passes if the grain is against you .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Kerry Drake's profile

Kerry Drake

167 posts in 3045 days

#2 posted 08-13-2010 05:19 PM

You can clamp the two boards together with the edges needing to be joined facing up and use your hand plane to match there edges. Using this method it doesn’t matter if they are perfectly straight, because each board will be a mirror image of its mate and they should go together seamlessly.

-- Kerry Drake, Loudon NH,

View chrisstef's profile


17423 posts in 3031 days

#3 posted 08-13-2010 05:21 PM

You can place them side by side together and run your circular saw down the middle (where they meet together), and once again it doesnt matter if its dead straight because with the width of the blade you cshould cut both boards.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3168 days

#4 posted 08-13-2010 05:21 PM

David’s idea sounds good. We used to snap a line along the edge, measure 1.5” inward and make two marks on either end. Clamp a straight edge on those marks and run a circular saw against it. This was in the field, and not considered fine woodworking, but add biscuits and a lot of sanding it was passable.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View Will Stokes's profile

Will Stokes

267 posts in 3379 days

#5 posted 08-13-2010 05:22 PM

Yeah, I was going to suggest either a router table, or easier still you can do it on a table saw after a fashion. First lay your board on your table saw so it bows toward the fence (and won’t wobble). Then place a long straight board between the board you’re jointing and the fence. You’ll use this 2nd board as a sliding flat surface. This way the jointed board won’t rotate as it moves past the end of your table saw fence. Joint one side. For the other side you won’t need the auxilliary board since you have a jointed face to go up against your fence. If this is confusing see here:

View Joe Watson's profile

Joe Watson

316 posts in 3571 days

#6 posted 08-13-2010 05:47 PM

there were some jointer tips in this video

lots of ways you can joint an edge without a jointer.

-- Got Wood?

View BreakingBoardom's profile


615 posts in 3105 days

#7 posted 08-13-2010 06:16 PM

Do you have other tools? As most of the Jocks here mentioned, the two easiest ways are to do it with a router or a tablesaw. Do you have either of those?

-- Matt -

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4030 days

#8 posted 08-13-2010 06:36 PM

Draw a straight line and cut it on your bandsaw.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Brokewood's profile


27 posts in 3045 days

#9 posted 08-13-2010 07:27 PM

Man I love this community…
Thanks for all the great tips so far!
I do have a router, I think that’s what I’ll try – sounds simple enough.
No bandsaw though, and my tablesaw is on the fritz, so the router will have to do.
Although Will’s advice with the handplane could be nice too.
I’ll be sure to post what I did and how it turned out!

View swirt's profile


2780 posts in 2996 days

#10 posted 08-13-2010 08:15 PM

For a coffee table, if your bench plane is a #5 or higher, you could joint the edge with that just fine.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Viktor's profile (online now)


465 posts in 3443 days

#11 posted 08-13-2010 08:27 PM

First, do what patron said, then follow with what Kerry Drake said.
Just a router or table saw, will not be enough for a seamless furniture grade joint.

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2964 days

#12 posted 08-13-2010 09:27 PM

Hey guys, what about jointing with a #7 jointerplane, the way it is supposed to be done and the quickest. Oh, I guess you don’t have a #7!
I will still go with what swirt said! It is quick, smells good and it is quiet!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3149 days

#13 posted 08-17-2010 07:42 AM

I’m glad you asked that as I sold my jointer before I moved, so I’ve been wondering the same thing at times.


View Vercingetorix's profile


2 posts in 1965 days

#14 posted 02-01-2013 06:47 PM

I know this is an old thread, but for reference, here's a good video demonstration of the jointer plane technique.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3673 days

#15 posted 02-01-2013 07:00 PM

router and a trim bit is fast , but if you don’t have a straight edge reference it won’t produce what you want. more so, depending on how narrow your workpiece is it could be a less than safe operation free handed.

considering what you stated in the original post, I would go with the #5:

1. Clamp 2 boards that you want to joint face to face with the edges to joint on top in your workbench.
2. Using the #5 joint/flatten the top edges at the same time
3. Take the boards and flip one of them end-for-end, and place joint edge against joint edge. any errors that you might have had with the angle during jointing would cancel itself out since both edges were done at the same time.
4. Glue, and clamp

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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